Tie a Yellow Ribbon

“All off duty firefighters and off duty officers are ordered recalled immediately.” 

“I need you to roll every available ambulance to this position right now.”

These commands came over the scanners the morning of September 11, 2001, and the calls were answered. Paramedics, firefighters and police officers headed into the battle, with one motive: to help people.

As Time magazine put it on September 14th, “On a normal day, we value heroism because it is uncommon. On Sept. 11, we valued heroism because it was everywhere. The fire fighters kept climbing the stairs of the tallest buildings in town, even as the steel moaned and the cracks spread in zippers through the walls, to get to the people trapped in the sky… That sentiment was played out in miniature in the streets, where fleeing victims pulled the wounded to safety, and at every hospital, where the lines to give blood looped round and round the block. At the medical-supply companies, which sent supplies without being asked. At Verizon, where a worker threw on a New York fire department jacket to go save people.”

And over the fields of Pennsylvania, a similar brand of heroism took place as passengers of Flight 93 fought back against the hijackers who had taken control of their plane. Had Flight 93 stayed aloft a few seconds longer, it would have plowed into Shanksville-Stonycreek School and its 501 students, grades K through 12. Instead, at 10:06 a.m., the plane smashed into a reclaimed section of an old coal strip mine. Those brave passengers laid down their lives, but their act prevented even greater tragedy. 

Stories of self-sacrifice abound from that day, and we lost many whom we loved. Some were lost simply because of where they were that morning. Others knowingly ran into danger in order to save someone else. What can we do, nearly a decade later? We can honor them by one simple act — remembering.


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